VTDigger: Senate Appropriations budget bill includes five-year cap on Reach Up benefits

by Alicia Freese | April 29, 2013
Full article at Vermont Digger

The Senate Appropriations Committee has settled on a five-year time limit for Reach Up, the state’s family welfare program. As part of the budget bill it passed this afternoon, the committee finalized its adaptation of the administration’s welfare reform plan.

The committee left the other half of the administration’s most recent proposal — a stricter approach towards families that don’t comply with the program — on the table. Currently, the Department for Children and Families (DCF) docks the cash grants of families that fail to meet the program requirements, but they never totally terminate assistance. Under the administration’s newest proposal, presented to the Appropriations Committee less than two weeks ago, families would be kicked off the program for six months after being sanctioned for four months. The committee opted instead to study the sanction policy before radically changing it.

Senate Appropriations had no shortage of choices, between the administration’s two proposals, the House’s version, and the Senate Health and Welfare Committee’s recommendation. It considered a number of options — “hard” caps, “soft” caps, caps with benefits, on-off caps, no cap at all — before deciding upon the five-year limit.